Skeptics Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for scientific skepticism. It's 100% free, no registration required.

Sign up
Here's how it works:
  1. Anybody can ask a question
  2. Anybody can answer
  3. The best answers are voted up and rise to the top

According to Pulitzer prize-winning journalist Gary Webb in his controversial article series The Dark Alliance

For the better part of a decade, a San Francisco Bay Area drug ring sold tons of cocaine to the Crips and Bloods street gangs of Los Angeles and funneled millions in drug profits to an arm of the contra guerrillas of Nicaragua run by the Central Intelligence Agency, the San Jose Mercury News has found.

Essentially the claim states that the CIA sold drugs in California to generate untraceable funds to transfer to anti-communist rebels in Nicaragua. The claims were taken seriously enough that in 1996 CIA director John Deutch traveled to LA to confront the claims, but the crowd he addressed remained unconvinced.

Has the CIA sold drugs in the US to fund rebels or to counter the rising influence of gangs?

Is there any evidence to support the claims, or the CIA's position?

share|improve this question
I am personally skeptical of the idea of CIA selling drugs in the US, but I am not skeptical at all about the idea that they would use seized funds... – horatio Apr 19 '11 at 16:04
A former executive of HUD explains the government-drug connection in great detail at link – bmcnett Apr 19 '11 at 22:09
The claim you quoted doesn't say that the CIA sold any drugs. The quote doesn't even directly say that the CIA knew about the drug sales. The CIA doesn't have 100% control over every group it funds. Could you be a bit more clear about your claim? – Christian Apr 19 '11 at 22:29
A better link. – bmcnett Apr 19 '11 at 22:31
most likely someone noticed a police sting (which sometimes use seized drugs to trap potential buyers) and came up with a wild idea that the police would never do such a thing so it must be the EVIL CIA :) – jwenting Apr 20 '11 at 9:44
up vote 21 down vote accepted

There is plenty of circumstantial evidence that this is the case.

  1. With respect to the Contra affair, the Kerry inquest reached the conclusion that there was some involvement, directly by CIA or by companies employed by CIA (full text);

  2. The CIA itself does not deny many of the allegations (link);

  3. There have been many other examples of the CIA dealing drugs to generate covert funds or actually helping the drug trade to foster some higher purpose (well sourced Wikipedia page).

Of course, people tend to infer a lot from little facts, and you are asking about a specific interpretation of the facts. We can't really address the motivations and dietrology of those theories skeptically, and the general principle is that the burden of proof is on who makes the allegations ("innocent until proven guilty!").

In other words, I cannot find any direct proof that CIA used the profits to fight gangs, although there is clear proof that the CIA was involved multiple times in drug trafficking.

share|improve this answer

Here is the most damning evidence yet:

  1. Retired FBI agent Ted Gunderson tells all (YouTube)

  2. Michael Ruppert confronts CIA director about Drug Laundering. (YouTube)

share|improve this answer
I've edited down the appeal to authority. I have listened to only snippets of the YouTube videos; it would be helpful to include references to where in the videos the evidence is provided, preferable with a short transcript. It would also be useful to have links to THEIR evidence, so we know whether we are dealing with legitimate accusations or just kooks. Gunderson's outspoken views on chemtrails (see the linked Wikipedia page) didn't help his cause. – Oddthinking Apr 17 '12 at 13:00

Your Answer


By posting your answer, you agree to the privacy policy and terms of service.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.